February 3, 2016
Court orders Phillip Musson's house to be forfeited over illegal steroid sales
The wife and mother-in-law of a Christchurch man convicted of dealing illegal steroids will lose their house. The High Court has ruled that Phillip James Musson’s wife and mother-in-law benefited from his drug dealing and the trio would have to forfeit the Bishopdale property they shared. The ruling by Justice Gerald Nation followed months of hearings and submissions in which the Police Commissioner applied for profit forfeiture orders against Musson, his wife Lesley Anne Musson, and his mother-in-law Anne Maria Hammill, aged 74. Musson was earlier jailed for four years, five months and three weeks after pleading guilty to dealing in illegal steroids and performance enhancing drugs. The commissioner assessed the value of Musson’s criminal activity as $795,958. Justice Nation ruled the Breens Rd property where the trio lived must be sold. Justice Nation noted that when the women asked about what Musson was doing, he would reply that if he told them, he would have to kill them. It was regarded as a joke, but they made no further inquiries about the legality of the operation which involved materials and cash coming and going, often under false names. Prescription medicines with a street value of $1,256,300 were imported by Musson or were in his possession. Justice Nation said Musson had been involved in “significant criminal activity”. The three opposed the profit forfeiture order being sought against them, arguing that Lesley Musson and her mother had not unlawfully benefited from the criminal activity, and that forfeiture would involve undue hardship for all three and for the Mussons’ daughter. Justice Nation said the women “deliberately refrained from making inquiry in order to avoid learning whether [their] suspicion was justified”. A search warrant at the home in May 2012 uncovered 11 false driver licences – five showing Phillip Musson, and six with photos of his wife – and in that search and another in February 2013, 18 cellphones were found. Musson said he kept both women “in the dark” about his offending. Lesley Musson had income of only $3,118.33 from Work and Income benefits between April 1, 2010, and March 31, 2013. A search warrant carried out at the Breens Rd property on May 23, 2012, found cash receipts for purchases totalling $87,781, including $55,605.13 spent on female clothing. Musson had asked questions, but chose not to seek answers. She had “knowingly benefited” from the criminal activity, Justice Nation said. Hammill was paid to put substances into vials, on Musson’s instructions. Police found prescription medicines, anabolic steroids and human growth hormones in Hammill’s rooms. Justice Nation ruled that Hammill was “wilfully blind” to what was happening. He rejected the argument that forfeiture of the property would cause undue hardship.